LEL alumni: Ben Wein

Posted on January 19, 2021 by

Ben Wein graduated from Manchester in 2014 with a BA in English Language and English Literature. Manchet got back in touch with Ben to talk about his career. After graduation, Ben relocated to Mexico, where he did a British Council assistantship teaching English. He subsequently spent time in Bolivia and Colombia, where he also taught English. As of recently, he’s been trying to establish himself as a journalist. We’ve asked Ben about his experience as an EFL teacher and as a journalist.  

Teaching English abroad is a brilliant opportunity. I did the British Council language assistants program. You don’t need to be fluent in the in the language of the country you’re going to. I went to Mexico and I was placed in a small city in western Mexico which was unpredictable.  You essentially just get placed in an area and you have to adapt. I would massively recommend people to do it if they have an adventurous spirit. 

Did you have to complete any additional training to work as an EFL teacher? 

Trinity Cert. TESOL and CELTA are the two standard qualifications. I would highly recommend doing either of those. It costs you about 1000 pounds, but it’s worth it. You can be employed in any country in the world. I don’t think there’s anything you could do which would give you such an opportunity. 

What steps have you taken to change career to journalism? 

I’ve done additional training with the Press Association, gaining an NCTJ diploma, which is a traditional route, though more of a route into local journalism. 

Do you have any advice for students interested in journalism? 

Don’t expect to make any money initially, it’s not a career to earn the big bucks. Make a contribution to any publication you can, such as the Mancunion, and seeing yourself in print will help give you a sense of belonging as a journalist/writer. Take the pressure off it; write something you are interested in, and would be doing anyway. Once you’ve got that first piece in print, the sky’s the limit – just think of all of the activities and interesting academics and research going on at the university. There’s a treasure trove of stories there. 

What would you advise students to make the most of their time at Manchester? 

Spend a year abroad! During my studies, I was able to do two semesters’ Erasmus in Barcelona. I would recommend everyone to do it if they have the opportunity.

Learn a foreign language. Your study of syntax and phonetics give you skills and an understanding of the fundamental structure of language, so if you’re studying linguistics you’re way ahead of most people. Speaking a foreign language is a practical hard skill that you can get out of university, whatever language it may be.  

If you want to be ready for the professional world, go and do something during your studies – an internship, and apprenticeship, anything. Don’t put too much pressure on it. You can go in one direction, then you can go in another. It doesn’t have to be your whole life, but you’re far better off going in *some* direction. 

What other aspects of your university experience did you enjoy? 

The International Society. You can go in there, you can meet people from any country, and you can learn essentially any language. 

[Note that the UK is not part of the Erasmus programme anymore, but the University offers a a number of other Study Abroad options. You can find out more about The International Society here]

Posted in: alumni